|March 2, 2006
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading
Ballroom, Campus Center
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Jonathan Ames is a stand-up monologuist, humorist, performance artist, essayist, novelist, recurring guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman," recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship for prose fiction, and former author of the hilarious "City Slicker" column for the "New York Press." He is best-known for soul-baring, often embarrassing accounts of his personal life; a preoccupation with bodily idiosyncrasies; and a pursuit of strange adventures.
"Alexander Portnoy come to life" - "Kirkus Reviews"
"an edgier David Sedaris" - "The Oregonian"
"New York's busiest struggling artist" - "New York Sun"
"the dirtiest, smartest kid on the playground" "Publishers Weekly"
His latest essay collection, "I Love You More Than You Know" (2006), features meditations on past failures, sadomasochism, fatherhood, fencing, and a beloved great aunt.
Novelist Philip Roth heaped praise upon Ames's first novel, "I Pass Like the Night" (1989), the story of a young man who escapes his middle class, Jewish, New Jersey family to explore the perverse underbelly of New York City life. Roth said, "An authentic voice of youthful suffering. Mr. Ames's antisocial young hero comes through as a cross between Jean Genet and Holden Caulfield in the age of AIDS. The style is the real achievement: strong, clean, and poker-faced."
Ames's most recent novel is "Wake Up, Sir!" (2004), a comic, oddball, 21st century take-off on the Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse. It was a "New York Times" Notable Book, a "Village Voice" Top shelf Book, and one of Amazon.com's Top Ten Books of the Year. Much of the action in "Wake Up, Sir!" takes place in a thinly-disguised Yaddo, the writers' colony in Saratoga Springs, and in a Hasidic enclave in Sharon Springs, NY. "Publishers Weekly" said, "Ames's tale zips along, brimming with comedy and wild details, proving him to be a winning storyteller and a consummate, albeit exceedingly eccentric, entertainer." Writing in the "Village Voice," Ed Park said, "Here is a book, rigorous as a dream and well ventilated with wit."
Other books by Ames include "My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays" (2002); a collection of columns, "What's Not to Love" (2000); and the novel, "The Extra Man" (1998). "Wake Up, Sir!" and "The Extra Man" are in development as films, with screenplays by the author. Ames also adapted "What's Not to Love?" as a TV pilot for the Showtime network, starring the author himself. The pilot is due to air sometime in 2006.